UK makes next move toward 4G

Michael Carroll
12 Dec 2012

UK regulator Ofcom yesterday opened the door for carriers to apply to take part in its auction of 4G spectrum, but the details of which firms stepped through the portal won’t be known until the year end.

Ofcom gave a tight window of opportunity for carriers, giving them just six hours to submit their application. Those that did were required to provide a deposit of £100,000 ($161,000), and their suitability to take part in the auction will now be assessed by the regulator.

Checks will include checking the accuracy of information supplied by the carriers, and ensuring there is no overlap in the applications.

The auction is scheduled to begin in January, however Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, says the application process means it has “fired the starting gun on the 4G auction process,” and pledged the technology will “drive significant improvements to mobile broadband availability across the UK.”

Informa Telecoms and Media principal analyst Thomas Wehmeier predicts the auction will raise “just a fraction of the record £22.5 billion spent during the 3G licensing round in April 2000,” due to the tough economic climate now facing operators relative to the millennium.

Wehmeier notes a recent prediction by the country’s Chancellor, George Osborne, that the sale will generate £3.5 billion is “slightly above industry expectations, but broadly on par with the amounts raised in similar auctions in other European markets such as Germany.”

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